Building a Billion Dollar Beauty Masterbrand

Client Situation
Unilever, a multi-billion dollar global consumer products company had long placed a priority on following personal care beauty trends, understanding customer attitudes and behaviors then acting on those insights to develop and build brands. One area uncovered by the research was the pressure women felt by society on what beauty represented and how it affected their self-esteem and brand adoption. To leverage this research, the iconic Dove Brand — only represented in bar soap to that point — was targeted to develop into a health and beauty category Masterbrand supportive of “real beauty.”

The Challenge
Unilever’s then largest-funded product launch in North American history was accelerated from a nine-month go-to-market sequence to a mere 10 weeks, due to competitive first to market reasons. Karen was recruited back by the integrated agency-of-record to lead the national brand launch for Dove Hair Care.

Actions Taken
Karen was the architect of the insights-based strategic launch plan that integrated consumer marketing activities across the path-to-purchase, hitting dozens of touch points where product adoption would be accelerated – quickly driving brand awareness, customer acquisition and share penetration. The plan was built with measurable goals and best practice benchmarks, then supported with the tools to evaluate its overall performance. She was allocated a $22 million budget to deliver her plan and oversee the implementation by a team of very capable colleagues.

Karen’s Approach to Accelerate Growth Through Strategy

  • Losing six months of planning preparation introduced a new level of complexity that required deliberate strategic sequencing. Karen coordinated with manufacturing, distribution, and sales teams to ensure the consumer launch activity synergized with the national product rollout by sales channel and coincided with planogram resets at mass, drug, and food retailer accounts.
  • Public relations, traditional advertising and digital media plans were initiated in the top 50 DMA’s, using optimal reach and frequency levels to blanket those markets with brand awareness messaging timed to coincide with Dove Hair Care hitting store shelves.
  • Over 10 million samples were distributed to current and new Dove consumers through a variety of programs designed to support trial goals. Additional shopper marketing programs and brand portfolio cross-sell promotions solidified acquisition and penetration objectives.
  • A mobile mall tour formed in a media partnership with Lifetime Channel brought the brand experience to consumers in cities all over the U.S.

The Resulting Outcome
In the first 16 weeks, Dove Hair Care secured 3.1% dollar share. In 9 months, sales grew from zero to $170.5M. Exceeded share benchmark by 23% ($38M); and doubled trial goals penetrating 28% of US households, again exceeding Unilever benchmarks and growth projections. The competitive advantage of the accelerated launch enabled the brand to push-out the line-extension innovations pipeline.

Postscript: With Honors

  • Over the next four years, Karen launched four more Dove categories nationally, creating a billion-dollar sales revenue Masterbrand for Unilever.
  • She earned a client award for exemplary leadership and performance by an agency partner.
  • She won a Reggie award for multi-cultural innovation and integration via a media partnership with Telemundo network.
  • She became an advisor on the global leadership team supporting “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which remains a hallmark of Dove’s brand promise today.

Go-to-Market Strategy, Integrated Marketing Plan, Retail Promotions, Media, Budget Management, Analytics, Leadership, Share and Penetration Growth

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